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Volibear Build Guide by Thiros

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League of Legends Build Guide Author Thiros

Tankibear: The Ultimate Meatshield

Thiros Last updated on January 7, 2012
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Ranked Bear

Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 9

Honor Guard

Defense: 21

Strength of Spirit

Utility: 0

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Volibear is quite possibly the most versatile champion to date. Lacking an AD carry? He can build that. Lacking magic damage? He can build it with on-hit items. Lacking a tank? He can be the meatiest of shields. The downside of all this versatility is that he has so many options it is easy to get lost trying to create an optimal build.

This guide will help you navigate all of the options for building a strong Volitank. My focus in this guide is creating a pure tank that can initiate and survive huge amounts of damage. If you are looking to build a Tanky-DPS, check out Killjaden's Guide.

Team 1 is my recommended Volibear build for most players. It provides a solid combination of utility and damage, all while being able to wade in against the entire enemy team and soak damage. Team 2 is built for ranked play, sacrificing just a small amount of health to add in the Quicksilver Sash as a counter to Ignite locking.

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Pros / Cons

+ Great Finisher
+ Fantastic Chaser
+ Can throw people into fricken turrets!
+ Strong duelist
+ Great teamfight damage with Ultimate

- No defensive cooldowns
- Very long cooldowns on all abilities
- Fling sometimes fails
- Susceptible to ignite locking
- Heavily gear reliant for farming

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Chosen of the Storm
This ability scales very well with health, but the down side is that if the other team is bursty they can kill you before you can benefit from this ability; however, it has saved my hide on numerous occasions (yeah, I knew you were waiting for an unbearable pun).

Rolling Thunder (Q)
This ability is ridiculously effective for feeding a lane partner or tossing enemies towards a turret. The speed boost allows Volibear to chase down enemies and finish them off when they try to get away from a losing fight. This can also be used to peel enemies off of your teammates so they can escape and heal up (similar to a taunt in some aspects). With a 12 second cooldown you do have to be a bit careful about when you use it.

Frenzy (W)
This ability is great because it provides both passive attack speed as well as an active damage dealer. The 18 second cooldown means it is not going to be a spammable ability, and since it gains 1% damage for every 1% health your target is missing this is an excellent execute ability ( Volibear has incited many people into Kill-Steal rage).

Majestic Roar (E)
This only scales with 0.6 AP, which makes stacking AP fairly useless. I like to use this about 1 second after Rolling Thunder to keep my opponent snared and near me (sometimes I will use it before hand to allow myself to catch up to them if my speed boost is about to wear off). Unfortunately, with an 11 second cooldown this is not spammable, and the mana cost means it really should not be used as a bread-and-butter damage dealer.

Thunder Claws (R)
This only scales with 0.3 AP, and with such a long cooldown it is not worth stacking AP at all. This is an on-hit effect, so the faster you attack the more you trigger it. Whether in a team fight or 1v1 duel, this ability turns Volibear into a huge threat.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

Volibear needs Frenzy maxed out first because the passive is his primary damage dealing ability, while the active is his primary harassment tool. Majestic Roar is finished second because it provides AoE damage as well as a snare that increases in potency. His ultimate, Thunder Claws is finished as early as possible at level 16, this ability is what really makes him dangerous in team fights. And while I do take Rolling Thunder first for it's harassing and teammate feeding potential, I finish it last because the only benefit it offers beyond the first point is a mediocre amount of damage.

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When building a tanking set there are a few key factors that need to be accounted for. First, determine which items are the most important, they will be built every game (this is the core of the build). Second, work in as many combo items in as you can (I always get at least one damage/defense and one snare/defense combo item). Third, build MR/AR based on the enemy team (who their most dangerous Champions are). And lastly, try to get as much effective health as possible without sacrificing in other areas.

Core Build
  • Mercury's Treads are my go-to boots for Volibear since he lacks any sort of escape tool. The treads reduce the duration of disables and provide magic resistance.
  • Warmog's Armor scales very well with Frenzy and Chosen of the Storm, and gives Volibear a solid health pool to make him more durable.
  • Frozen Mallet provides a lot of health, and I really like being able to keep my target snared so that my teammates have an easier time burning enemies down.

Balanced Build
  • Sunfire Cape provides both defense and damage. I love this item because Volibear needs to be in the thick of things, and there is no limit on the number of critters it can hit at once.
  • Banshee's Veil provides Volibear with magic resist, health, and a shield. I prefer this item to Force of Nature because the stats are hands down better for Volibear.
  • Guardian Angel is a very nice item for Volibear. It provides both Armor and Magic resist which help make him more durable. It is also a neat little trick for Volibear, because while "dead" Volibear's Chosen of the Storm will refill his health (if it is not already on cooldown) along with the 750 health the item already returns.

Options, Options, Options...
  • Thornmail is an amazing final item against AD champions, like Tryndamere, who hit incredibly hard.
  • Atma's Impaler is about the most cost effective physical damage item you can pair with Warmog's Armor, and provides a medium amount of armor. This is a great single target DPS item, but as a tank I prefer Sunfire Cape.
  • Wit's End provides everything a DPS Volibear could ever want: attack speed, on-hit damage, and magic resistance. But since this is not a DPS variant I go for items built more for survival (though this item does make it's way into the anti-AP build).
  • Randuin's Omen is such a great mix of utility, armor, and health that it is a difficult item to leave out of a tank build. Any build where I do not use the Frozen Mallet, I take Randiun's Omen instead (and it is in my Ranked build).
  • Quicksilver Sash is a great item for Champions like Volibear that lack escape tools. It is better than Cleanse simply because it also removes Ignite which is something you absolutely need to counter in Ranked games.
  • Frozen Heart provides a lot of armor, cooldown reduction, and an attack speed debuff. Decent, but not great since Volibear should not be spamming his abilities, so the CDR is a bit of a waste.
  • Force of Nature has the highest MR of any item, but the movement speed is not that great for Volibear since he already has better options for chasing.

Terrible Items
  • Rylai's Crystal Scepter is horrendous, hit "Back" on your web browser anytime you enter a Volibear guide that recommends this item. He has two magic abilities, one that already has a better snare, the other with such poor AP scaling and such a long cooldown that taking this item is beyond idiotic. Frozen Mallet is simply superior.
  • Rod of Ages may have some good health, but the AP is a waste and there are much better items out there for our fuzzy friend. As noted above, back out of any guide recommending this.
  • Guinsoo's Rageblade ...really? I could go on, but at this point I will just say this: do not ever take AP gear on Volibear, and do not listen to anyone who ever tells you that it is good on him.

  • Boots of Speed and Health Potions help keep Volibear in the lane early on in the game.
  • Phage needs to be rushed because it provides a key snare, as well as health.
  • Sunfire Cape provides minion farming power (more gold), and is great in team fights so I build it as early as possible.
  • I build the rest as evenly as possible, leaving the Frozen Mallet for last because the benefit of finishing it early is minimal.

A note on Jungling
If you are going to Jungle and are the team's primary tank, simply pick up Wriggle's Lantern before anything else (starting with Cloth Armor and 5 Health Potions). After that, simply move into my Balanced Tank build. Towards the end of the game you can sell Wriggle's Lantern since you will no longer need the life-steal or bonus damage to minions, and finish with Guardian Angel. Something to keep in mind: Volibear is a slow jungler until around level 4. You will be 2 levels behind in every sense, because of this I do not like jungling with him. Let the AD carry get a Vampiric Scepter and tear through the jungle instead.

This is something I briefly touched on in the introduction to the item section, but I feel it needs to be expanded on. Your build order is a ridiculously important aspect of this game, you want to maintain solid strength from start to finish. If the enemy is heavy on AD Champions like Tryndamere and Master Yi, rushing Thornmail out before Warmog's Armor can be a game changer that tips the scales in your favor. When they are balanced you want to build health, AR, and MR as evenly as possible. Below are some possible builds for countering specific team compositions (the AD counter is my favorite, you will see why).

Balanced Counter
14.6k effective health against both AP and AD, this brings a balanced combination of utility and survival to Volibear.

AD Counter
16.9k effective health versus AD. The great thing about having Volibear against an AD team is that you get to build a lot of offensive combo items so you deal a lot of damage on top of being the main tank.

AP Counter
16.6k effective health against Magic Damage. In keeping my with mentality of always having one combo item, I replaced Sunfire Cape with Wit's End.

Building for Ranked Matches
This provides balanced stats against all damage types (just under 14k effective health), solid utility and damage for team fights, and a counter to the bane of Volibear's existence: Ignite. In normal games, you do not need to worry so much about it because enemy teams are not organized well enough to make Ignite a huge threat.

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I have a fever, and the only cure... is more Warmogs.

The Ridiculous Warmog Build

Do not ever do this.

Well, ok, do this if you are bored and want to mess around in a bot game... but seriously, do not do this to your team in a normal match. The upside: you have 18k effective health and a stupidly hard-hitting Frenzy. The downside: you have zero utility, and building this many Warmog's Armors is incredibly expensive. Plus having that much effective health is really unnecessary considering how difficult it is to kill Volibear with my standard Balanced Build (an entire team of 5 focus firing him still takes a while to bring him down).

Consider this: Warmogs provides 1270 health when it is maxed. That is +228 damage when Frenzy is used. Compare that to what I get out of just about any DPS item in the same 18 second interval...

Adding in Wit's End alone makes up for that in less than 4 seconds (Wit's is roughly a 66 DPS gain, bear minimum). 1 Wit's End blows 3 Warmog's out of the water for DPS, and costs 7000g less. So now lets take the Sunfire Cape at 35 DPS per target - it takes only 7 seconds hitting a single target to over-take the bonus to Frenzy in DPS. Stacking Warmog's Armor is a horrible idea if your goal is dealing damage, and it leaves your lacking utility.

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Summoner Spells

Great Choices
  • Heal gives some extra survivability, it is useful if your team lacks a proper healer.
  • Exhaust provides an extra way to snare and reduce incoming burst, this is a great pick if I choose Randuin's Omen instead of the Frozen Mallet.
  • Flash is an fantastic escape tool, and can be used to teleport over walls.
  • Ghost is completely preferential and has similar usage to Flash. I like taking it because it is buffed by our masteries.

Situational Choices
  • Ignite is a great choice if less than 2 people on your team pick it up. It keeps your enemies from healing up enough to survive. Not my first pick on a tank, though.
  • Teleport is great for getting to team fights quickly or rescuing a turret. I pick this up reasonably often if I do not have at least 2-3 teammates with it already.
  • Cleanse can provide an extra way out of being focused down, and with the new buffed version it is a very tempting Summoner Spell, but to be honest Quicksilver Sash is flat out better.
  • Smite is good for jungling, and only jungling. Only take it if that is what role you are filling.

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Greater Mark of Lethality

Greater Seal of Scaling Health

Greater Glyph of Scaling Magic Resist

Greater Quintessence of Scaling Health

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Building a tanking spec for Volibear is easy. We want the combination of Juggernaut , Veteran's Scars , and Durability to boost his health, and Weapon Expertise to give his Frenzy and auto-attacks a little more damage.

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There are so many viable options for building, picking just one core build can be tricky. This build is the best one I have found so far that provides a solid combination of utility, damage, and tanking power. It took me a lot of time mucking around in-game, trying different item combos, researching, and discussing to finally come to this build, and I warmly welcome any and all discussion or critique on it. As such, I placed a requirement that you post your reason for voting up or down.

Volibear's combination of Tankiness and damage output make him a force to be reckoned with on the battle field. He is so flexible that he can fill just about any role effectively. Your team will love you and your enemies will fear you for your ability to initiate and survive battle.

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Quick Reference Guide

Confused by all the acronyms? Let me clarify some of the more common ones real quick:

  • AR: Armor, provides protection against physical damage.
  • MR: Magic Resist, protects against magical damage.
  • CDR: Cooldown Reduction.
  • DPS: Damage Per Second - a measurement of the damage output a champion can do broken into one second segments (generally used in MMO's as a reference to damage dealers).
  • AD: Attack Damage, this refers to classes who deal Physical damage.
  • AP: Ability Power, the stat that boosts magic damage dealt by many abilitys, and a blanket term for classes that deal Magical damage.
  • Carry: Generally refers to a class that you feed lots of gold (giving them killing blows on minions and Champions) so they can build high damage items quickly ( Ashe or Brand are prime exampes).
  • Tanky-DPS: A class that acts as a sort of off-tank, they can take more damage than the average champion, and deal a good amount of damage to boot, but they are neither the team's main tank, nor a primary damage dealer (carry).
  • Mob/Creep: A term used for either aggressive or neutral minions and creatures.
  • AoE or AE: Area of Effect, this refers to abilities that deal damage to an area (or multiple creatures) rather than a single target.
  • On-Hit Effect: This means that every time you hit an enemy with a basic attack, the on-hit effect (usually magic damage on an item like Wit's End) is applied.
  • Effective Health: The amount of damage you absorb based on a combination of armor or magic resistance and your health pool. To figure it out, take your health pool and divide by what a player would deal to you in damage. With 60% mitigation from armor an AD carry would only deal 40% of their base damage to you. If you have 4000 health, they would need to deal the equivalent of 10k unmodified damage to kill you (4000 / 0.4 = 10000). Effective Health (against both magical and physical damage) is much more important than health alone.

    Useful Links
  • Jhoijhoi's Guide to making a Guide - This was instrumental in helping my create my first guide.
  • Jungling 101
  • Warding Helper
  • In-Depth Item Guide
  • Volibear, the top of the food chain - best Tanky-DPS guide around